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Weekly Alibi Chile 101

The Fundamentals of Green and Red

By Sammy Serena

OCTOBER 6, 1997:  Here is some very basic information on preparing green and red chile. Included are simple sauce recipes to serve with enchiladas, tamales, huevos rancheros, burritos and any dish calling for green or red chile sauce.

Dealing With Chile

• Never handle chiles without rubber gloves as they contain volatile oils that irritate the skin. If you do use your hands, don't touch your eyes or other sensitive body regions.

• To peel chile, start at stem end and pull downward. Slit open to remove seeds and veins. The chile's "heat" is in its vein, removing it will make the chile milder.

• To freeze chiles without loss of flavor, blister them and leave skins on; they will come off easily when thawed. Freeze in serving/recipe size portions.

• Red chile burns easily. Carefully watch the heat when toasting, roasting or cooking on the stove.

• To test red chile bitterness, simmer one chile in water 15 minutes, then taste the cooking water. If it seems bitter, use only the pulp of the chiles, putting them through a sieve and discarding the skins after puréeing.

Fresh Green Chiles

Wash and drain chiles and place on a hot grill or in the broiler; turn frequently and roast until skin is blistered. Remove the chiles from heat and cover with a damp towel or place in a closed plastic bag for 10 to 15 minutes. Chiles may be frozen or used in a recipe.

Green Chile Sauce No. 1

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups diced green chiles

Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender. Blend in flour and brown lightly. Add remaining ingredients, simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Makes about 1 quart.

Green Chile Sauce No. 2

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup water, chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup diced green chile
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar

Sauté garlic in oil. Add chile and onion and cook over medium heat 5 minutes. Add parsley, coriander and flour. Cook 3 to 4 minutes then add stock. Stir until sauce is smooth and thickened. Add salt and sugar to taste. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Feeling fancy? Substitute 3/4 cup tomatillos for onion in this recipe! Makes 2 cups.

Fresh Red Chile

Fresh red chile may be roasted like fresh green chile. Another preparation method is to boil the fresh red chiles with lots of garlic for 15 minutes. Remove from water and liquefy in a blender or food processor. Strain through a sieve. Transfer to a saucepan then bring to a boil. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes then enjoy in a recipe or freeze.

Dried Red Chile

Wash chiles and remove stems. Slit open and remove seeds and veins (if desired) and any blemishes. Place chiles on a cookie sheet in 250-degree oven; bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with a damp towel. Allow to steam for 5 minutes. Chiles are now ready to use in making red chile sauce.

Red Chile Powder

Remove the stems from eight dried red chile pods (Recycle your ristra. Take the dried chile pods from the ristra and wash well. Toast these in a warm oven but don't let them burn. Remove seeds and veins unless you don't mind the heat.). Place half the chiles in blender and process on low speed until completely powdered. Repeat process. Store in a tightly covered jar. Makes 1 cup.

Red Chile Sauce No. 1

3 tablespoons olive oil or lard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup red chile powder
2 cups water, chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons oregano
Salt to taste

Sauté garlic in oil. Blend in flour with a wooden spoon. Add chile powder and blend in. Blend in water and cook to desired consistency.

Red Chile Sauce No. 2

10 to 12 red chile pods, freshly roasted or prepared dried pods, stems removed
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Place five to six chiles in blender, cover with water and add the spices. Process on low speed. Add remainder of chiles and more water, continuing to blend on low speed, until sauce is of good consistency. Remove sauce from blender, strain (discard skins if bitter) and simmer in saucepan for 15 to 20 minutes. Use the sauce right away or freeze to use as needed. Makes about 1 quart.

--Sammy Serena

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